High School Chapter 4:
Mary S. Peake & Barbara Johns: A Fight For Academic Equality
Throughout the four centuries of history covered in Determined, access to education was at the heart of the African American struggle for equality. While slavery was legal, enslaved Americans were prohibited by law from being taught to read and write, and had no access to formal education. Following emancipation and the 13th Amendment, Black Americans temporarily enjoyed increased access to education, but those rights quickly evaporated under new Jim Crow laws.
Under those provisions, Virginia and other southern states established “separate but equal” schools that segregated students by race, which resulted in unequal conditions for Black and White children. Despite these setbacks, African Americans continued to aggressively pursue their right to an education.